TORTA DE LIQUIDIFICADOR

Come again? 

:-)


The best translation for this Brazilian recipe would be “Blender Pie.” First, let’s learn how to say it like a native. Repeat after me, three times:
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Easy, right? I knew you could do it.

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I have a sister in Brazil who is 16 years older than me. By the time I got into my teens she was already married, throwing parties, and pretty involved into cooking. One of the things she used to make was this blender pie, but her favorite filling was tuna with green peas, black olives and tomatoes. Being the mega picky girl I was, I never touched that kind, preferring instead more friendly (and austere) versions with ham and cheese, at most a touch of oregano. The basic process is always the same, a thick batter is made in the blender, half of it gets poured into a baking dish, the filling of choice scattered on top, and the rest of the batter spread all over. It is comfort food by default, or as we say in Portuguese, por definição. I won’t sugar coat the pill, it is a bit heavy. Accept it and move on. As an appetizer a couple of small squares will be enough for each guest. If you’d like to serve it as dinner with a salad on the side this full recipe feeds six hungry people.

Blender Pie

TORTA DE LIQUIDIFICADOR
(BLENDER PIE)
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the “dough”
1 cup oil (I used canola)
2 cups milk (full-fat)
3 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup shredded Parmigiano cheese
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

for the filling
caramelized onions
sautéed mushrooms
shredded mozzarella cheese
diced tomatoes
(or any other filling you like to use)

Heat the oven to 375 F. Lightly grease or spray with oil a baking dish (9 x 13 or slightly smaller is fine).

Make the dough: add to a powerful blender all the ingredients, and blend for 5 minutes until completely smooth. Stop the blender and clean its sides a couple of times during the process.

Pour half of the batter in the prepared dish, add all ingredients for the filling on top, pour the rest of the batter, spreading gently with an offset spatula to enclose all the filling.

Bake for 45 minutes or until all puffed up and golden on top. Let it cool until just warm before cutting in slices. It can be prepared a couple of days in advance, to re-heat use a low oven, microwave is not recommended.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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The beauty of this recipe is its versatility. You can pretty much use any filling you imagine: shredded barbecued chicken, ground beef with taco seasonings, roasted veggies, maybe some grilled shrimp, all doable. One popular version in Brazil uses corn and peas, green and yellow like the colors of the country. I do think cheese is pretty much mandatory in any kind of blender pie. If using shrimp or roasted veggies I suppose a bit of crumbled feta would be a nice option. No need to measure anything, just cover the extension of the baking dish with a hearty amount of filling.

I made this particular version for a reception we hosted. Keep in mind that in the span of two weeks we hosted three receptions for faculty and one pizza-party for our whole lab. After the pizza party we had some toppings leftover, so this Brazilian concoction of my past was a perfect choice to use it all up. But to make it more special, I prepared a batch of  caramelized onions, following this recipe from my friend Elaine. She used a clever method that allows caramelization to be an almost hands-free process, by making them in a low oven. I added a smidgen of balsamic vinegar to the onions, together with salt, pepper and olive oil.

Here they are, in a before and after shot…
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I intended to add black olives to the filling too, but found the bowl with pitted Kalamata staring at me right after shutting down the oven door. Not the first time I pull this type of trick on myself, I believe it won’t be the last. Black olives would have been wonderful… (sigh)

The little pie squares are irresistibly gooey due to all the cheese…

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So there you have it, a Brazilian concoction from my teenage years finally featured in the Bewitching Kitchen. I hope I made my sister proud!  

ONE YEAR AGO: Lamb Meatballs with Toasted Orzo

TWO YEARS AGO: Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars

THREE YEARS AGO: Penne with Trapanese Pesto

FOUR YEARS AGO: Superman

FIVE YEARS AGO: Spring Pasta

SIX YEARS AGO: Ice Cream Melts for Mango

SLOW COOKER CARNITAS LETTUCE WRAPS AND PALEO PLANET REVIEW


They say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and I cannot think of a better phrase to start this post. Several months ago – a few too many – I learned that the hostess of one of my favorite food blogs (A Calculated Whisk) was publishing her first cookbook. After I was done with my extended version of the happy dance, I pre-ordered the book, Kindle version. The book was downloaded to my computer in August last year, but within a couple of days I asked for a refund, and immediately switched to a paper copy of it. I guess that tells you how much I loved it…  I then contacted Becky and asked if it would be ok to publish one of the recipes and do a little review of her cookbook. She was adorable, sent me right away a list of recipes that the publisher agreed could be shared by food bloggers, and I made her Bacon and Spinach Souffle.  My intention was to blog about it on the first week of December, but the pictures turned out really bad, doing no justice whatsoever to the great taste of the dish. I was disappointed and decided to make it again later.  Just as I was getting ready to do it, Becky herself blogged on that very recipe, with drool-worthy images… So yes, I re-made the souffle’ because we enjoyed it so much the first time, but skipped blogging about it. Instead, I jumped right away on another goodie, Lamb Meatballs with Saffron Sauce… One word: WOW. Ok, another, OMG. That makes four words? Sorry. I need them all. But here’s three more for you: Slap To Forehead.  That particular recipe was not in the list approved for sharing by her publisher. Can you feel my pain? Undeterred, although a bit embarrassed by my comedy of boo-boos, I attacked yet another recipe: Slow Cooker Carnitas Lettuce Wraps with Pineapple Salsa.  Five words for you: Third Time’s the Charm. Let me blog about it quickly before someone else beats me to it…
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SLOW COOKER CARNITAS LETTUCE WRAPS WITH PINEAPPLE SALSA

(slightly adapted from Paleo Planet)
reprinted with permission from Becky Winkler)
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for the carnitas:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 bone-in pork shoulder (about 2.5 pounds in weight)
1 onion, thickly sliced
Juice of 2 oranges (reserve the shells)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
for the salsa:
3/4 cup fresh pineapple chunks (I used diced mango)
1 small red onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 avocados, diced
1 head of Boston lettuce for serving
Cashew cream or Mexican crema for garnish (optional)
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Make the carnitas: mix the olive oil, cumin, salt, black pepper, oregano and cayenne in a small bowl. Rub the mixture all over the pork. Place it in the crock pot and top with the onion and citrus juices. Add the orange shells to she slow cooker as well. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.  The meat should be fall-apart tender.
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When you are ready to serve the meat, turn the broiler on and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, preferably the heavy-duty kind. Remove the pork from the slow cooker, discarding orange halves and onion slices. Shred the meat using two forks into bite-size pieces. Place the meat on the baking sheet, spoon some of the liquid left in the crock pot over the meat, and broil until browned on top and crispy around the edges, about 5 minutes.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
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Make the salsa: combine all he ingredients in a small bowl except the avocado pieces and mix well to combine. Gently toss the avocado, taste and adjust seasoning, adding more lemon juice if so desired.
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To serve, spoon the meat over leaves of lettuce, top with the salsa, and drizzle with crema or cashew cream.
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ENJOY!
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to print the recipe, click here
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 Comments: This was superb. Absolutely superb. I am a pulled pork cheerleader, so I could be slightly biased, but still. It was one delicious meal. The salsa, so simple to prepare was a perfect topping for the meat. I was lucky to have blood oranges available when I made this recipe, they gave a gorgeous color to the cooking liquid. I highly recommend you make this dish when they are in season. As for the salsa, I used mango instead of pineapple simply because I tend to develop canker sores when I eat pineapple, which is pretty sad, since I love the fruit. Oh, well, there are worse problems to have in life.  I used this recipe for cashew cream, which I blogged not too long ago.
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holidays
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And now, it’s time to share my views on Becky’s first cookbook,
Paleo Planet: Primal Foods from the Global Kitchen…
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As expected from a cookbook published by a reputable food blogger, the photos are amazing, so if you are a very visual person when it comes to picking a recipe to try for the first time, this cookbook will be a huge hit with you. But not only the photos are great, the book was designed with a wonderful sense of aesthetics. Details like the edge of the pages in each chapter marked with a different color, so browsing through is easier… also, each color matches the font in the list of the ingredients. The book is a pleasure to hold, open, and read. I smiled my whole way through it. Another thing I love about it? Becky did not go through 126 pages to explain what is Paleo diet, why you would benefit from it, and listing every single ingredient and gadget you will need to make a Paleo meal, including 3 sizes of wooden spoons, that… come to think of it, cavemen lacked, I am sure. I joke. but some Paleo cookbooks take you for such a looong detour before giving you what you want (recipes!) that it becomes tiring, at least for me. Becky devotes austere 9 pages of text to cover not only her own experience with Paleo, but everything you’d need to know in case you are new to the subject. That is it. I loved it!
book

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Chapter One:
  Spice Blends, Pantry Staples and Sauces…
 In this chapter you will find gems like homemade date syrup (after paying for a bottle and getting addicted to it, I am sure it will be fun to make my own in the future), Cashew Cream (another one of my recent addictions), Slow-cooker caramelized onions, a few chutneys like onion, tamarind, and mint, and many other things to spice up your food.
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Chapter Two: Appetizers, Soups, Salads, and Snacks… How do you feel about Tahini Glazed Chicken Wings? Yes, they are there. Malaysian Beef Satay with Quick-picked cucumbers?  Also waiting for you… Some super enticing soups like Butternut Squash with Fried Garlic and Chile Oil (the photo made me swoon…), or Cauliflower and Mushroom Soup with Gomasio (a fun, simple item ready in seconds that would go well on many dishes). For some reason, I associate Gomasio with a handsome butler…  “Gomasio, please bring me a glass of carbonated water with a dash of Angostura bitters, will you?”  Nah, trust me, nothing to do with it.
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Chapter Three: Poultry... I pretty much wanted to make every single dish of the 21 included in this chapter, but what can I say? I love poultry. Roast Chicken with Za’tar and Yogurt Sauce maybe gets the number one spot with me, but some serious contenders would be Coconut Tamarind Curry, Drumsticks with Mole Poblano, and Chicken Tagine with Potatoes and Quick-Preserved Lemons. WOW!
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Chapter Four: Beef, Pork, and Lamb… Mat lovers, get ready to dig in! Another chapter I could cook from first to last. Includes my featured recipe (Slow Cooker Carnitas), and the one I could not blog about, Lamb Meatballs in Saffron Sauce, but also gems like Date Glazed Pork Tenderloin, and Honey Chipotle Short Ribs.
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Chapter Five: Seafood…. Great recipes in here too, starting with her Lemongrass Shrimp with Cucumber Vermicelli, for which you will need a spiral cutter to make your life easier. You know you need one, almost as badly as you need Becky’s book, so order them both at amazon.com and help keep our great economy moving. Once you get the spiralizer, you can make the second recipe of this chapter, Cilantro-Lime Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini Noodles. See? It all falls in a nice place in the Paleo Planet.  I also want to make her Broiled Salmon with Ginger-Orange Sauce, although I would probably opt to grill the fish instead.
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Chapter Six: Vegetables... Cauliflower Rice is there, in case you are wondering. How could it not be? It is probably the staple of choice for Paleo diet lovers.  Her take on it is simple, straightforward and works great. But how about some Smoky Sweet Potato Latkes?  I want to make them soon, hoping that mine would look half as gorgeous as hers. Another great choice would be the Ginger-Lime Parsnip Puree, as I see parsnips as a great ingredient, often ignored. Love this chapter, it even includes a recipe for okra, which tempted me, but I resisted, I suspect my beloved husband is grateful for it.
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Chapter Seven: Breakfast and Brunch…
I thought it was interesting that she added that more to the end of the book instead of the beginning, unexpected pleasure to stumble upon the chapter. Surprisingly, one of my favorite recipes of this chapter is already in my blog!  Mini-Quiches with Mushroom Duxelles and Baby Broccoli, was my choice of recipe to make from her blog in The Secret Recipe Club back in January 2015. Check it out here. By the way, very few of the recipes from her book were previously on her site. No worries about ordering your copy. Spinach and Bacon Souffle, the first recipe I made but with disappointing photos is also from this chapter.I have a single photo that is not too bad to share, take a look at how creamy it was…
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Chapter Eight: Desserts…
Becky managed to assemble a collection of 17 recipes that don’t make you go “I don’t know about this one…”  You know what I mean, Paleo recipes sometimes bring blueberry muffins made with stuff as tasty as sawdust and sprinkled with honeyed seaweed.  No, not the case. You will find options that are naturally Paleo friendly such as Vanilla-Cardamon Berries, Chocolate-Ginger Truffles, Mocha Panna Cotta, Mexican Brownies, Lemon Olive Oil Cake, and the last recipe closing the book is Coconut Whipped Cream, something lots of bloggers rave about, but I haven’t tried yet.
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So that is my take on a great cookbook that I’m glad to own in its real format, I’ll take the opportunity to save some trees later.  The book was clearly made with love and attention to every detail. Becky follows a Paleo nutrition but doesn’t act like a member of the Paleo Police, quite the contrary. I appreciate that very much, and highly recommend her cookbook, no matter the type of nutrition you enjoy or follow. Of course, vegetarians might find the options slightly limited, but if they don’t mind skipping three of the chapters, there’s plenty to cook from Paleo Planet.
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Becky, I am sorry it took me so long to get this post published, but as I said in the beginning, I had very good intentions…
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If you’d like to order Paleo Planet, follow this link.  I am not associated with amazon.com, and will not profit from your purchase. My reviews of cookbooks and products arise exclusively from my desire to do so.
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PLAYING WITH PECTINASE

I subscribe to a site called Chefsteps.com that deals with stuff going from molecular gastronomy to sous-vide, but also covers more mundane topics, like making the most of your mandoline or brewing that perfect cup of coffee. A few weeks ago they featured the use of pectinase to turn clementine segments into the sweetest gems similar to those you can buy canned, but are extensively processed to taste so great. The method couldn’t be simpler: you peel the fruit, separate the segments and place them in a bowl with water containing a few drops of pectinase. What is pectinase? First, a very brief lesson in biochemistry. All enzymes are proteins with a specific activity on a component referred to as its “substrate.” They usually follow a nomenclature with the suffix “ase” to indicate which substrate the enzyme acts upon. Proteases degrade proteins and are of course part of our digestive system. DNase destroys DNA, and it is a nightmare for those working in molecular biology. We need to be always protecting the DNA we work with from being degraded. Pectinase destroys pectin which is the main component that forms that white pith around citric fruit segments. The pith is not only harsh in texture, but also in taste, quite bitter.  By allowing pectinase to work, that outside layer is removed, and you’ll end up with perfectly smooth pieces of fruit that will taste considerably sweeter. Even though pectinase is not toxic, once you get the fruit the way you want it, simply rinse the water containing pectinase out, blot the pieces dry and enjoy them.

clementines

Aren’t we awfully cute?

Pectinase is sold – like almost everything you can dream of – by amazon.com, and it’s pretty affordable, plus a little bit goes a loooong way. One of the interesting things about enzymes is that they are not consumed in the reaction, so like the Energizer Bunny, they just keep going and going. Adding five drops works, but adding one works too, it will simply take a little longer. I added about 4 drops to the bowl and left the fruit at room temperature for a couple of hours, then stuck it in the fridge for 6 more hours until we were ready to use them. You can leave the fruit in water longer, for a day or so, no problems.

pectinasecomposite
Pectinase, like most enzymes, will work faster in warmer temperatures, so it is conceivable to use sous-vide (or even a simple water-bath) to speed up the reaction without cooking the fruit in the process. Think anything around 100F for 30 minutes to one hour.

The clementines were delicious to nibble on while binge-watching “How I met your mother” late at night, but when added to this favorite salad of our recent past, it made for a LEGEND… wait for it… LEGEND… wait for it… LEGENDARY MEAL!

 

salad

Use this recipe, but substitute clementines for grape tomatoes…

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Poached White Asparagus with Lemon and Pistachios

TWO YEARS AGO: Dan Lepard’s Saffron Bloomer

THREE YEARS AGO: Fesenjan & The New Persian Kitchen

FOUR YEARS AGO: Quinoa Salad with Roasted Beets

FIVE YEARS AGO: Pasta Puttanesca

SIX YEARS AGO: Miche Point-a-Calliere

 

SWEET POTATO CRUST QUICHE

This recipe captured my imagination the moment I saw it in Cooking Light and I could not wait to make it, because c’mon, we are talking quiche… I don’t know a single person who doesn’t like it. Ok, I take it back. My first husband didn’t. Obviously, things could not have ended well in that relationship. One wonders. Back to culinary issues, quiche is such a great recipe: it has elegance, it has substance, and you can come up with all sorts of variations for the filling. The only thing that gives me pause about making it is the pastry part, since it needs to be refrigerated, rolled out, etc etc. Not a huge deal breaker, but it definitely makes this delicacy less likely to show up at our table on weeknights.  This variation takes care of that problem. Instead of dealing with the dough, you grab a couple of sweet potatoes, peel them, slice them thin and call it a day. It also has the added bonus of being quite a bit lighter. What’s not to like?

Sweet Potato Crust Quiche

SWEET POTATO CRUST QUICHE
(adapted from Cooking Light magazine)

2 medium sweet potatoes
a few sprays of coconut oil
1 (5-ounce) bag baby spinach
1/2 cup full-fat milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
dash of freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1.5 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Heat the oven to 350°, then peel and slice sweet potatoes. Coat a pie dish with coconut cooking spray, then fill the bottom of the dish with a layer of sweet potato slices. Once the entire dish is filled, spray one more time with cooking spray and season lightly with salt. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn heat up to 375°.

For the filling, heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add spinach; sauté 3 minutes. Remove from heat; cool. Combine milk with all the spices and eggs in a bowl, stir well with a whisk. Arrange spinach mixture in crust; pour egg mixture over spinach. Sprinkle with feta. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes. Let stand for at least 10 minutes; cut into wedges.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

quichecompotsite

Comments: I loved this recipe! To me it was close to perfection because I liked the slight sweetness offered by the potato crust in contrast with the sharp feta cheese. However, Phil would prefer the crust to be harder, and due to the nature of sweet potatoes, that is not an easy task. He thought maybe if I baked the crust longer and at a higher temperature it could work better. It’s definitely worth experimenting. One of the issues is “shrinkage.”  Baking for the time specified in the recipe already caused the sides to shrink down considerably. I guess I could add a bit more slices to the sides and see how it goes. But, even with a slightly soft crust Phil thought the quiche was flavorful and made for a delicious side dish for our dinner. I know most people would serve it with a light salad, but we are meat lovers and savored a nice T-bone steak with it, medium-rare in all its glory. My apologies to all our vegetarian friends and two of my nieces in Brazil.

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So many flavors going well together here!

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Chicken Thighs with Artichokes and Capers

TWO YEARS AGO: Pea Pancakes with Herbed Yogurt

THREE YEARS AGO: Mushroom Stroganoff

FOUR YEARS AGO: Tomato Sourdough

FIVE YEARS AGO: Gamberetti con rucola e pomodori

SIX YEARS AGO: Flirting with Orzo

FIVE MINUTES IN L.I.T.

L.I.T., you ask? Well, that stands for Laboratory of Iron Transport, and it’s where I spend most of my waking hours. In brief, we study how bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Listeria monocytogenes get iron from the environment and “swallow it up.” The metal is indispensable for bacteria as well as all other living organisms to survive, but it is very tricky to obtain. Iron can be compared to money in the sense that everyone who has it tries to protect it from being taken away. However, bacteria developed sophisticated systems to do just that: steal the iron from you and use it to survive. Since all pathogenic bacteria need to obtain iron to cause disease, we hope that our research will lead to the discovery of new weapons to fight infections.

We thought – actually, let me give full credit to Phil for that – he thought it would be fun to walk through the lab and ask what each person was doing, in an informal and fun way.  Unfortunately, two of our undergrad students were not available when the video was made: Noah Long and Dallas Hyder. It was tricky enough to get everyone else there at the same time. I think the video turned out pretty good, as it was totally improvised.

Check it out here.

It makes me very sad to see Brittany Nairn, our super star Research Professor, getting ready to leave our group. She is the person who shows up in the video once Phil goes through a closed-door to our darkened “Fluorescence Spectroscopy Room.” We wish she could stay longer as a member of our team, but unfortunately that’s not possible.    She will go on to write her own story, and we know she will be successful and happy no matter the path life takes her. Our whole lab will miss her terribly…

CREDITS IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE

Yan Shipelskiy – Graduate student working super hard to develop a full system of evaluation of iron uptake in Gram-positive bacteria

Olivia Eliasson – Undergrad student working with Dr. Nairn to evaluate compounds with anti-bacterial activity linked to blocking of iron uptake

Dr. Somnath Chakravorty – Post-doc who recently joined our lab, working on iron uptake genes from Klebsiella pneumoniae

Aritri Majumdar – Graduate student performing very tricky experiments to evaluate the effect of bacterial membrane integrity on iron uptake

Ashish Somvanshi – Graduate student who just joined our lab, also working on iron uptake by Klebsiella pneumoniae

Dr. Brittany Nairn – Research Professor who joined our lab in August last year, and developed from scratch a whole system to evaluate iron uptake in a pathogen called Acinetobacter baumannii

Dr. Sally Newton – yours truly, molecular biologist by day, food blogger by night. Performing her favorite type of experiment using radioactive iron. Because, you know… some like it hot!

Director, Producer and Narrator,  Dr. Phillip Klebba… My favorite scientist in the whole wide world!

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Our undergrad student Noah Long, missing from the video, but proudly showing the results of his labor: the best batch of enterobactin ever purified in our lab!  How cool is that look?

😉

Before I leave, I invite you to watch this video of Dr. Phil Klebba explaining in more detail the research of our group. Sorry, ladies, he is already taken.

 

 

 

PECAN CRUSTED CHICKEN FROM SOUTHERN AT HEART

Some recipes sound quite tasty but disappoint when you make them.  Not this one. Tasted as good as it sounded…  Funny thing is, I wasn’t sure it would be a winner because chicken breasts can be a bit tricky when baked.  However,  the meat was tender and moist, it looked pretty nice when sliced, and I heard “this is really good” several times during our Sunday dinner. It is a bit involved to make on weeknights, but I guess one could spread the preparation, assembling the “roulades” the evening before and keeping them in the fridge without the pecan coating. Next evening, all that’s left to do is coat the meat with crumbs and bake. The recipe comes from Damaris Phillips show on FoodTV, Southern at Heart.  I find her delightful, upbeat and funny. Even though for the most part her style of cooking is a bit too heavy for my taste, every once in a while I find something that calls my name. Like this chicken. Flavorful and quite elegant to boot.

Pecan Crusted Chicken Breasts

PECAN CRUSTED STUFFED CHICKEN BREASTS
(adapted from Damaris Phillips)

Four boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and ground black pepper
4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
2 eggs
2/3 cup dried breadcrumbs
2/3 cup ground pecans
Coconut oil spray

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound to 1/4-inch thick. Pat the chicken dry and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Sprinkle the goat cheese lengthwise on one half of each breast; then sprinkle with dill, and orange zest.  Fold in the short ends as if folding a Mexican burrito, then, starting on the half with cheese, roll up into a tight cylinder. Close the seams with toothpicks or tie with kitchen twine.

Whisk the eggs in a wide, shallow dish with 1 tablespoon water. In a separate dish, combine the breadcrumbs and ground pecans. Sprinkle the stuffed chicken with salt and pepper. Dip in the egg mixture and then in the breadcrumb mixture; shake off excess breading.

Place the breaded chicken on a wire rack set over a baking sheet and spray with coconut oil. Bake to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Remove the toothpicks. Cut in slices and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments: I know that goat cheese and dill are a match made in heaven, but you know what made this dish a real winner? The orange zest. In fact, the sweet citric flavor was even more intense two days later when we had leftovers for dinner. I served it with butternut squash “noodles” and asparagus, but of course the chicken would go well with many different side dishes. For instance, Damaris paired it with a Southern risotto, very hearty.

This recipe would be great for a dinner party, as you can prepare it all in advance and place the meat in the oven half an hour before you want to sit down for dinner. Keep in mind not to over-process the pecans, so that you get a bit more crunch on the topping.  In typical Sally mode, I totally forgot that I have some pecan flour in the freezer. I bet it would be great to use maybe 50-50 with the bread crumbs, intensifying the pecan flavor.  Something to consider for next time…

ONE YEAR AGO: Lamb Shanks en Papillote with Cauliflower-Celeriac Purée

TWO YEARS AGO: Chestnut Brownies and a Blog Award!

THREE YEARS AGO: Quinoa with Cider-Glazed Carrots

FOUR YEARS AGO: Celebrate Wednesday: Heirloom Tomatoes Steal the Show

FIVE YEARS AGO: Pain de Provence

SIX YEARS AGO: Golspie Loaf, from the Scottish Highlands

 

 

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: CHOC-ORANGE MINI CAKES & A BONUS RECIPE

13082596_1327954120553739_3054889855668038106_n(Reprinted with permission from Adrienne Hedger)

And here we are landing firmly in the month of May. This year is flying by, if you ask me… First Monday of the month means fun. It is Reveal Day for The Secret Recipe Club, that event in which bloggers are paired in secret and cook a recipe from their assigned site.  This month I got a food blog that was new to me: Chit Chat Chomp, hosted by Leigh, who blogs from Melbourne, a place I would love to visit one day. Leigh’s site is a thing of beauty, very stylish, elegant, amazing photos, and great prose. Basically, a must-read food blog!  She summarizes her approach to cooking in a delightful way:

Recipes inspired by my travels through France, adapted for everyday simplicity and filled to the brim with nutrition.  Mostly gluten and refined sugar-free, my recipes lean towards food that inspires, heals and nourishes, but above all else, it’s fresh, organic and simple.

Recipes inspired by my travels through France… She’s got my full attention!  In fact, she describes herself as a lover of all things French. You can imagine the smile I opened when I read that line, right?  I spent quite a bit of time stalking her blog, but jumped on a recipe right away for a reason I will classify as “The Swedish Effect.” Small parenthesis is needed.  We have an undergraduate student from Sweden in our lab called Olivia. She happened to mention that April 15th was her “name day” back home.  I was puzzled, but then learned that in Sweden each day of the year is associated with a particular name, as you can see in this site. April 15th is the name day for Olivia (girls) and Oliver (boys). Olivia said that her Grandma always gave her a nice card on that day to celebrate the occasion. So, I thought it would be cool to bake something starting with the letter O and bring to the lab on that day. Orange-Chocolate mini-cakes seemed perfect! Obviously, I jumped on the recipe with no hesitation whatsoever. But, my decision had a small problem associated with it, which led me to make a second recipe for today’s reveal. Read on…

Choc Orange Mini Cakes
ORANGE-CHOC MINI CAKES
(from Chit Chat Chomp)

Makes 6 mini-cakes

1 orange
1 cup almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp raw cacao powder
1 Tbsp rice malt syrup or raw honey
handful of raw cacao nibs
handful of sunflower seeds (I omitted for lack of sunflower seeds)

Heat oven to 320 F and line a mini cupcake pan with 8 cupcake papers

Place the orange in a pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. Allow to cool.

Chop the cooked orange into chunks and place in a blender and blitz until smooth. Add all other ingredients (except cacao nibs and sunflower seeds) to the blender and pulse until combined.

Divide the batter between your cupcake papers, filling close to the top as they will not rise by much, and top with the cacao nibs and sunflower seeds. Pop into the oven for approximately 30 to 40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the middle.

ENJOY!

to print the mini-cake recipe, click here

orangecakecomp
Comments: As Leigh mentioned, the only tricky part of this recipe is to boil the orange. Tricky in the sense that you need to dedicate one hour for that step. Essentially hands-free, though. The smell in the kitchen as the orange simmers…. wonderful!  Once the orange is ready and cooled down, the batter will be ready in minutes. Now, let’s talk about the “small problem.”  The recipe made six cupcakes, enough for each of our lab members to enjoy, but Phil and I could not have any. In short, I made a recipe for The Secret Recipe Club, but never got to taste it. I had only one way to restore my dignity as a blogger: choose a second recipe from Chit Chat Chomp, and make it too… and that’s what I did, so today you get two recipes instead of one. How’s that for problem solving?

Without further ado… my bonus recipe from Leigh’s great blog:

Veggie Bread

VEGGIE BREAD
(from Chit Chat Chomp)

1 + 1/2 cup almond meal
3/4 cups arrowroot flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
5 eggs
1 + 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 large zucchini, grated
1 large carrot, grated
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons pepitas.

Heat the oven to 325 F and line a standard loaf pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix together the almond meal, arrowroot, salt and baking soda. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs lightly with the apple cider vinegar. Add zucchini, carrot and cheese and mix well.

Add the egg mix to the dry ingredients. Mix to combine. Pour the dough into the prepared loaf tin and sprinkle with pepitas.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top starts turning golden and a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack. Allow to cool for five minutes before cutting into slices.

ENJOY!

to print the Veggie Bread recipe, click here

veggiecomposite

Comments: We loved this bread! It is obviously gluten-free, no regular flour, but the texture reminded me of quick breads, except that this had considerable more moisture. Not too dense like some gluten-free breads turn out.  Leigh said it freezes well, but we did not get to test that, in three days it was gone. I enjoyed a slice at lunchtime, and was surprised that Phil did that too, he prefers his bread to be loaded with gluten. This one had so much flavor that the lack of wheat flour was not a big deal.  Once it sits in the fridge for a while, the best way to bring it back to life is toasting it…  paired with juicy tomatoes, it was out of this world delicious!

toasted

I wanted to try to make croutons out of it.  Not sautéed because I am afraid they would crumble, it is a very delicate bread. But maybe spraying the croutons with coconut or olive oil then toasting them in the oven. I bet they would turn out amazing on a kicked-up version of Caesar salad, or over a massaged kale concoction. Definitely a bread to play with.

I must say it was not easy to decide on which recipe to make as the bonus.  I really wanted to make her Savoury Muffins, not only because the recipe enticed me, but for the write-up about it. You gotta go and read it… it has to do with France…   And, if the weather was a little more appropriate, I would love a bowl of her luscious Carrot Soup… Another heavy contender was the Zucchini Noodle with Kale Pesto, which is pretty much my favorite type of meal these days.

Leigh, I loved getting your blog as my assignment this month, and feel sorry I could not taste those cute mini-cupcakes… Thinking back, I should have made a double batch, but I only thought about it after they were all baked and I had no time to boil another orange and start over. It was getting close to bedtime then… oh, well. Such is life!

Please make sure to click on the blue frog sitting patiently at the end of this post, so you can marvel at the posts that my virtual friends from Group A made for their assignments.

Adrienne, thank you again for allowing me to share your cartoon on the blog!
I love your work!

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, May 2015

TWO YEARS AGO: P90X3, a Review of Tony Horton’s Latest Fitness Program 

THREE YEARS AGO: Pasta and Mussels in Saffron Broth

FOUR YEARS AGO: Triple Chocolate Brownies

FIVE YEARS AGO: Shanghai Soup Dumplings

SIX YEARS AGO: Bite-sized Chocolate Pleasure